Dreaming My Life into Being

JJ Dare, friend, fellow author and sister in sorrow, wrote a blog post today about Floating in the Sea of Dreams that got me thinking . . . again. . . . about how I am dreaming my life into being. The Sea of Dreams is like a primordial ooze where ideas and hopes rise up and evolve and then sink back into the deep only to ascend once more in a different guise. And every permutation of these dreams changes us, makes us grow, helps us reach our destiny.

A few months ago when my 96-year-old father (my current responsibility) seemed near death, the idea of living on the go appealed to me. I worry about settling down and stagnating somewhere, and moving from place to place would vanquish that worry, though of course, other worries would take its place. Weather, for example. It’s one thing to think of such a life in the puget soundstillness of a warm desert spring day, and another thing to consider the possibilities of snow and tornadoes, hurricanes and ice storms.

My father is doing well, so much so that it’s possible he could outlast me, and the thought of living on the road was subsumed into the Sea of Dreams. I’m back to taking life one day at a time, not thinking about the future, not making any long-term plans.

The other phase of my original idea of living on the go was to do an extended bookstore tour in an effort to introduce my books and my publisher to the offline literary word. That idea, as I have discovered, seems to be another overly rosy daydream. Since I couldn’t go on the road, I’ve been doing my bookstore tour via mail. Sending out letters, gift certificates, offers to interview booksellers.

There’s been little interest in my mailing, and unfortunately, it makes sense. Bookstores are in the business of making money, and since I am not a big name in the literary world (hard though it may be for you to believe), they have no incentive to stock my books. Of course, if/when I do become a big name, they will be interested in my books, but by then, I won’t need them. (If you are a bookstore owner and reading this, and you are interested in my books, let me know and I’ll send you a gift certificate. Or if you are interested in my interviewing you, you can find the interview questions here: Bookseller Questionnaire.)

So this dream of becoming an offline author, like many others I’ve had, is slowly sinking back into the depths, but already, some dreams are beginning to arise. I’m getting inklings of a desire to finish my works in progress. And the idea of being on the go is slowly evolving into something I can do now. I’m considering shutting off the internet one day a week (gasp!!) and taking myself on a fishing trip. (Not to fish for fish, of course, since such a hobby is only peaceful for the one fishing. The poor fish are scared, hurt, and fighting for their life.) My idea is to go fishing for life. Just take off for a day. Go wherever. See what I can see.

Meantime, I’ll continue floating on the Sea of Dreams, dreaming my life into being.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Words Yipping at My Heels

I just finished taking a look at two thrillers, both big, slick, well-touted works. Although they had interesting plots, there were so many point-of-view characters and so many incidents that the stories never seemed to go anywhere. I finally got tired of the words yip-yip-yipping at me and closed the books.

Ahh. Silence.

Three-hundred-page manuscripts used to be common, but the size of books grew along with the influence of corporate booksellers. Not only did large books make people think they were getting more for their money, they were well suited for mass displays. As with other merchandise, perception of worth apparently supersedes true value.

Big books are divided into short chapters and those chapters divided into smaller and smaller segments that make the book easy to put down and pick up at odd intervals for attention-challenged readers, but those small segments make it hard for a reader who wishes to identify with a character and be pulled into another reality.

Some books don’t lose anything by being big and thick. Although toward the end I did get a trifle tired of Stephen King’s Duma Key, he managed to keep my attention all the way through. No mean feat. But most big books today can do with some serious editing to better focus the plot and give some depth to the characters and stop that incessant yipping.

One of the more enjoyable books I read recently was a mere two hundred and sixty pages, but it didn’t seem like a short book. The character’s plight engaged my interest, and I didn’t keep flipping pages in an effort to finish the book quickly.

I used to feel guilty that my own books were only about three hundred pages long; obviously something is wrong with me if other writers can churn out words by the hundreds of thousands. But I want my words to signify something, to be worth the time it takes to dig them out of my psyche. And I want my characters to be more than mere types. I don’t know if I will ever become the writer I wish to be, but I know one thing: I won’t be creating overblown, yippy works; the words come too hard. Besides, I would rather readers complain that my books are too short than slam them shut to get a bit of silence.